It is disheartening to see unfounded conspiracy theories, ad hominem attacks and misinformation used to shut down an important study and discussion of Camden’s future. It seems Camden has its own big lie.
Maybe I am not as familiar with town political history or personalities as Roger Akeley, but I certainly would not make judgments and attack other people’s motivations and character, even if I were.

It is ironic that the current hysteria about the Select Board’s supposed subversion of voting rights will actually have the opposite result. A premature vote on one small element of the complex issues before us serves only to shut down discussion and voter options rather than “fighting for democracy.”

For the record: there is no conspiracy to destroy the town’s history, aesthetics, or citizens’ input. There will always be a waterfall and the Select Board has no power to do anything without voter approval. The Montgomery Dam remaining in its present form remains an option on which Camden citizens will vote.

I became interested in the river restoration project as a result of the town’s Harbor Park presentation last year (where I also talked to the Save the Dam Falls folks). There are at least seven public forums and committee meeting videos posted on the Camden Town website in addition to the complete dam options and river restoration feasibility studies. I would hardly call the Board’s exploration of dam and river restoration as “clandestine,” or “sneaky and undemocratic.”

The first feasibility study report set up three alternatives for the Town to consider. Keep the status quo and proceed with the needed rebuild of the Montgomery Dam and spillway; modify the dam; or remove the dam and spillway completely. Each alternative “could be accomplished in a manner to preserve the aesthetics and acknowledge the historical attributes of the site, while enhancing the public use and educational components of the area.”

Using the first study details, the Town of Camden expanded its focus to the remainder of the Megunticook River watershed to look at the “broader sustainability and community resilience to climate change, and to reduce infrastructure management needs, restore ecosystem health by providing native migratory and resident fish passage.”

The feasibility studies, engineering evaluations and cost analyses commissioned by the Select Board were made to find out what is needed and what is possible. The next step is the formation of a citizen advisory committee to solicit citizen input and work, with the help of a consultant, to design specific construction proposals based on the three options. Detailed renditions and models combined with specific project costs are necessary for citizens to see and understand what they are voting on.

The Montgomery Dam controversy boils down to this — pursuing science and facts to plan for the future of the Megunticook River and Camden’s climate change resiliency, or sacrificing that future based on the short-term emotional attachment to one piece of 1930 concrete.

My own reading of the Inter-Fluve studies brings me to the conclusion that retaining Montgomery Dam and building an industrial grade fish ladder (Inter-Fluve report’s last choice) is unworkable and too costly.
Removing the dam completely and providing a completely natural fish run (Inter-Fluves’ first choice) is overly optimistic, even if projected as the most cost effective, and would also encounter substantial public resistance to alterations of Harbor Park.

A design based on partial dam removal (Inter-Fluves’ second choice) combined with a naturalized pool and weir fish passage system (similar to Damariscotta) would seem a sensible solution to me.

The final choices will be up to Camden voters. We need all the facts, detailed plans, options, and costs (including the option of keeping Montgomery Dam) before an informed vote. We also need rational, respectful discussions before an informed vote. Personal attacks, deflections and fear mongering should not be part of that discussion. Camden is better than that.

Bruce Meyer
Camden